The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli

Release date: 12 October 2017
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ – 10/10
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The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1) blurb:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

So, this book was on my TBR for an embarrassingly long time. In fact, I was supposed to buddy read it with my friend Jekki for ages, but kept putting it off. It got to the point where Jekki just read it without me and then I felt bad so I started it. (Lots of other books came out that I was dying to read! It’s not all my fault! Ok, so it is totally all my fault, but I’m not up for taking blame right now…)

Also, you know how I have that bad habit of not reading blurbs before I start books? Well I actually read the blurb of this (kind of) and thought to myself ‘dragon slayer? That’s unusual, I’m not sure how I feel about killing dragons’… and then promptly left it on my TBR for about 8 months. That was a bad idea. And by that I mean, reading the blurb was a bad idea. Because this book was freaking amazing!

The Last Namsara tells the story of Asha, a princess, who has become the fiercest warrior and dragon slayer in all of the land, and probably all of history as well. She is feared by everyone around her, with the exception of her brother and cousin, and her betrothed. Asha is the Iskari, the bringer of death. But Asha is more than just that, she is wicked and corrupted, and she knows the old stories that are banished. The stories are forbidden, because telling them can kill you. But the old stories also bring the dragons, and you can’t be a dragon slayer if they won’t come to you…

Asha, as a character, is fantastic. Not only is she horrifically scarred from a dragon burn, there really isn’t a description of her that talks about how sexy or pretty she is. It’s actually kind of nice to not feel like you’re reading about a Disney-princess looking character. Of course she’s still told that she is beautiful, but she also has to overcome a lot of adversity (including that basically everyone is terrified of her). Torwin is the main male lead. He is the slave boy who helps Asha, and works for her betrothed. Torwin is interesting. He doesn’t seem to care that he breaks the rules, and you really don’t find out why until the very end which (I think) made him kind of untrustworthy but also intriguing. He was also not ‘classically handsome’ (he’s certainly no Rhysand), but was likeable because of his characteristics rather than his looks.

Other characters of note include Asha’s father, the Dragon King, her brother Dax, her cousin Safire (I LOVE her), her bethrothed Jarek, the temple guardian Maya, the scrublander Roa, the reddish dragon Shadow, and the first dragon Kozu.

The world building in this is fantastic. I wasn’t once lost or confused by the world itself, and the way the old stories are woven into the book itself is fantastic. This kind of storytelling has become more common lately (The Hazel Wood is quite similar in the way it shares the stories within the story and The Language of Thorns is the book of stories from the Grishaverse) and I welcome it with open arms. I grew up on prophecy stories, so this is just as good (and often better) in my opinion. One thing I particularly liked about The Last Namsara is the ‘history’ that they speak of really wasn’t that long before the current. The story of the Dragon Queen and the Skrals is Asha’s grandmother, so that’s quite tangible to Asha as a character; it’s not a far off long ago hurt that must be righted.

Probably my favourite part of this book is the old stories between some of the chapters. If Ciccarelli were to release a book of the stories at the end of this series, I would totally be on board with that!

The second book is expected to come out this year, and I am very much looking forward to it!

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